Wednesday, April 12, 2017


IRS to use private collection agencies. The IRS will begin using private collection agencies to collect taxes, fees and penalties from accounts that still owe money but the IRS is no longer actively pursuing for collection. Using private collection agencies was authorized by Congress with legislation in December 2015.

The IRS says that it will send a written notice to taxpayers and their representative when their accounts are being transferred to a private collection agency. In turn, the agencies gaining the accounts will send a letter to taxpayers and their representatives confirming the transfers.

Only four private collection agencies have authorization to collect for the IRS, CBE, ConServe, Performant, and Pioneer. The agencies must follow the provisions of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and their employees should be courteous and respect taxpayer rights.

The agencies will not ask for payment with prepaid debit, iTunes or gift cards. The IRS says that “Taxpayers will be informed about electronic payment options for taxpayers on Your Tax Bill. Payment by check should be payable to the U.S. Treasury and sent directly to IRS, not the private collection agency.”

For more about this new program, go to the following links,

Private Debt Collection:

Stay Alert to Phone Scams:

IRS scam ringleader arrested. IRS scammers can work anywhere in the world. Recently, Indian law enforcement announced the arrest of Sagar Thakker in Mumbai. Indian authorities accuse him of being the mastermind of several IRS scam call centers. He is being accused of extortion, cheating, impersonation, criminal conspiracy, and violating Indian communications and tech laws.

For more detail about this arrest, look at this link,


AARP continues scam prevention education. AARP has been educating consumers about the wide variety of scams that can threaten them. Recently, it published an online fraud guide.  The guide has summaries of several scams written by AARP experts. Review the guide and please pass it on to your friends and family.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

CAR THEFTS- Don’t Become a Victim

Cars, trucks, SUV’s etc. can all be stolen from just about anywhere. In a shopping mall parking lot, at a park or play field, outside a convenience store or at a gas station or even at home.

From January through the end of March, there have been 16 car thefts in and around Woodinville. Last year there were 12 car thefts during the first three months.

Car thieves have many ways to take your vehicle. The easiest is when the driver keeps the car unlocked. Sometimes drivers will “hide” keys under a mat, in the console, in the glove compartment. Car thieves, like car prowlers, often check car doors for the ones that are unlocked. And they know where to look for the common hiding places for keys. So, when you park your car in a parking lot or parking garage, take your key with you, lock your car, roll up your windows.

The same is true when you park your car at home. If you park on the street or in your driveway, be sure to lock your car, take your keys and do not leave anything in view! You might think that you are safer parking in your garage. And in a sense, you are. Your vehicle is out of sight. And assuming all the doors are closed and locked, the casual car thief will not take the time to try to get to your vehicle.

However, if you keep your garage doors open while you are gardening in the back yard, that gives an opportunity to a thief to check out your car, your lawnmower, tool box, and anything else in your garage. And for that matter, if your garage is attached to your house, the thief can check out your home. Also, there have been cases where vehicles have been securely locked only to have someone open the garage door with a remote from a car parked outside.

The lesson is to take your garage remote with you when your park your car in your driveway or in front of your house. And remove your keys and your things from your vehicle, even if it is parked in your garage. That may seem like overdoing it. But as secure as your garage may be, its security is not perfect. Also, lock the door between your garage and your house. Some crime prevention professionals even recommend having a deadbolt lock on the door between the garage and house.

For more tips on protecting your vehicle, go to

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Here is a video of a former car thief talking about how he stole cars and more prevention tips. It is older, but the advice is still relevant.

ABC News:

Thursday, April 6, 2017

BURGLARY PREVENTION- Protecting Your Property

With longer and warmer summer days approaching, home burglaries and car prowls will increase. This might be a good time to review your security measures at home. Here is some information on the subject.

Outdoor Lighting. We may think about outdoor lighting in terms of being able to see at night and for our own safety. It can also help prevent theft. Most car prowls in residential neighborhoods occur when it is dark. Cars and trucks are often parked in driveways and the streets overnight when we are asleep.

By lighting up the area where you park your vehicle you make it more likely that the car prowler would be seen and therefore more of a chance for someone to call 911. This can be especially effective if you have a security camera that covers the area. Car prowlers do not want to hang around if they think that they will be caught.

You can have lighting on a timer or a light sensor that turns the lighting on automatically. Or you can use motion-sensor lights that turn on when they detect motion. Motion-sensor lights save energy and they can startle a potential car prowler or thief.

Here is a recent article reviewing some specific lights that are on the market.

Security Gem:

DIY Security Systems. If you are interested in a security system you can have a major install sensors and cameras for you. Or you can do it yourself. There are several companies that offer inexpensive products and services that can help you monitor your home while you are away. This article introduces four newer security companies.


Protecting Your Home. Here is a tip sheet that shows you how you can prevent a burglary in your home.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

SOUTH EVERETT- Home Robbery and Assault Update

Yesterday, the Snohomish county Sheriff’s Office announced that one of the two suspects in the home invasion robbery that occurred in south Everett on Wednesday, March 29, ( turn himself in to a Snohomish County Sheriff’s captain on Friday. The Sheriff’s Office attributes the wide exposure of photos of the suspects on social media as a motivation for the suspect to turn himself in.

Police are often asked by citizens what to do in the case of a home robbery. And for at least two local police agencies, Run, Hide, Fight is the recommendation in the case of a home robbery. Run, Hide, Fight (and a similar concept called Avoid, Deny, Defend) was introduced for the “active shooter” situations that have been reported in the press. But what about a home burglary/robbery.

For Sgt. Marty Zelaya of the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office’s Office of Neighborhoods, Run, Hide, Fight, should be part of your situational awareness as you go about your day. Having a plan for what you would do in a crisis, such as if you find a burglar when you return home, can help you act quickly and safely. And running, if you can, can be a better alternative than fighting.

A homeowner can come home to find a burglar in their house. Or, a burglar can enter a house not realizing that the homeowner is inside. This can create a dangerous situation for the homeowner (and the burglar). Burglars generally do not want to enter a house when someone is at home. That’s why many burglars knock on the door before kicking it in.

If a burglar thinks that someone is in the house, or if he will be caught by an alarm or a next-door neighbor, he will move on to another house. That is why, many police now recommend that when you hear that knock, and you suspect it may be a burglar, yell through the door, or at least make some noise so that the burglar knows you are there.

The idea of Run, Hide, Fight is to protect yourself from harm. Your first priority should be to avoid the danger. That’s what Mill Creek Police Chief Greg Elwin told KING TV news. Get away from the danger and call 911.

If when you arrive home you think a burglar is in it, stay outside, away from any danger. Call 911 and be the best witness that you can be. If a burglar enters your house while you are in it, leave by another door. If you can’t leave find a closet or bathroom to hide in. If possible lock the door. Turn off any lights. Silence your cell phone ringer. Be prepared to fight to defend yourself. And defending yourself does not require a gun. You can improvise a weapon from items that you have on hand. But be aggressive in your attack.

The keys are to be aware of what is going on around you and to have a mental plan for what you would do in case you encounter a burglar at your home.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:


Watch these videos about Run, Hide, Fight and Avoid, Deny, Defend to learn more about protecting yourself in an active shooter situation.


ALERRT Center at Texas State University:


The latest issue of the Sheriff’s Office’s crime prevention newsletter, “Partners in Crime Prevention,” is out. This issue covers what sex trafficking is, how the Sheriff’s Office investigates it, and how you can help to prevent it.

Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office:

Monday, April 3, 2017

SCAM UPDATE- Annual Free Credit Report, Handling Scam Calls

SCAM- Annual Free Credit Report

You have the right to receive a free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies every 12 months. This is important for you to detect if you have been compromised by identity theft.

To receive your credit report, you need to initiate the request. No one else will remind you. There are scammers who will send an email or have a pop up ad claiming that they are from one of the credit reporting companies or another entity who can help you with your request. As with any other phishing scheme, do not click on links from unsolicited emails or pop ups.

You can order your annual report from one central location at:

·         On the web,

·         Call toll free, (877) 322-8228

SCAM CALLS- How to Handle

Many scammers rely on our natural propensity to treat others with good manners and basic respect. But, if you suspect that you might be talking a scammer, a little coldness might be in order.

When you answer the phone, especially from a stranger, consider the following:

·         If your phone rings, and you do not recognize the phone number on your Caller ID, you do not have to answer. You can let it go to your voicemail and review the message later.

·         You do not have to call back. Even if the caller claims to be from the IRS or your local court you do not have to return the call to the number that they specify. You can call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to discuss you tax return. To call your local court, or police or sheriff’s office, look that up online separately.

·         Greetings are often the trigger for the scam phone call. When your phone rings, you pick it up and say “hello.”, but you hear silence. You say hello again, then someone comes on the line. Why is this? The first hello alerted the autodial software that there is someone on the line, you. Then a human has a chance to join the call. When answering this type of call, don’t say hello the second time. Wait, if you do not hear anything, hang up.

·         The best offense is a good defense, so put the other person on the defense. My wife usually adopts her “office” voice when answering phone calls from strangers. She often hears someone say “I’m sorry, I thought this was a residence.”

·         No one is entitled to your information over the phone. If a stranger calls you asking for your information, hang up. If they already do not have the information, they do not need it.

Identity Theft Resource Center: